Illustration: Derek Chamberlain; Photos: Shutterstock
2023 salary survey 9 to 5 insights

Chemical Industry Salaries: More Giving Than Taking – 9 to 5 Insights

Oct. 3, 2023
The 2023 salary and job satisfaction survey reveals that compensation, recognition and challenging work are reasons to sing a happy tune.

Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’ / Barely gettin’ by, it’s all takin’ and no givin.’

They just use your mind, and they never give you credit / It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it.

9 to 5, for service and devotion / You would think that I would deserve a fair promotion.

While Dolly Parton found inspiration for her song in office work, that doesn’t mean we can’t analyze her lyrics, and apply them to the chemical industry. And according to this year’s salary and job satisfaction survey, there’s more giving than taking in terms of compensation.

As you will find out in this issue’s cover story, “Salaries Get Stronger,”  chemical engineering professionals are having a banner year. I will save the average salary reveal for Managing Editor Amanda Joshi to tell, but I will highlight a few of the responses we collected from your peers regarding pay, bonuses and satisfaction.

Agreeing with Dolly that they are lacking appropriate credit and job advancement, one respondent noted, “I am compensated well. However, promotions are given sparingly even when working at the competence of the next level. So, it takes much longer to get promoted than it should.”

Flipping the song script, another survey taker said, “I am happy with the compensation and benefits I receive. I am on a bonus structure that is based on company performance, and I have a direct impact on how the business performs.”

I’m not certain if this next response came from someone with tongue firmly in cheek (or going crazy), but the participant stated that “prestige/recognition” keeps them motivated in their career. “Little plaques mean the world to me,” the respondent continued, even bringing Napoleon into the mix by paraphrasing the French military commander’s quote – “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”

Another survey participant draws inspiration from Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore and his emphasis on innovation as a source of motivation. As the participant stated, they’re “keeping Moore’s Law alive another year, pushing the physical boundaries of technology.” In 1965, Moore proposed that every two years, the number of transistors on microchips would double — essentially pointing out that computational progress will become significantly faster, smaller and more efficient over time.

Similarly, many survey respondents cited the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research and development projects as a major driver of job satisfaction. The sense of accomplishment derived from solving real-world challenges, whether it’s creating sustainable processes, facilitating safety best practices or developing life-saving drugs, is immensely rewarding and keeps the majority of the workforce on the job from 9 to 5.

However, while workers express the desire to find meaning in their jobs, we can’t ignore the importance of fair compensation. The desire to feel empowered and contribute through innovation must be reflected in pay/benefits/compensation or workers will find a different way to make a livin’. That’s something the industry can’t afford as it’s still contending with a skills shortage.

About the Author

Traci Purdum | Editor-in-Chief

Traci Purdum, an award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering manufacturing and management issues, is a graduate of the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kent, Ohio, and an alumnus of the Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

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